Who was Harry Chapin?
Harry Chapin was a popular folk/rock singer and songwriter (you may remember “Taxi” or “Cat’s in the Cradle”) who donated the proceeds from every other concert he performed to fighting hunger.
He co-founded the organization WhyHunger, now a global nonprofit. Harry also established the Hunger Hotline in New York City and the Long Island Cares Food Bank. Harry spent much time on Capitol Hill convincing members of Congress and their staff to enact solutions to the solvable problem of hunger. HIS QUOTE:
He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for his outstanding humanitarian efforts.
In 1981, Harry died suddenly and tragically at age 39 in an automobile crash on the Long Island Expressway. He was scheduled to perform another benefit concert that night.
Sandy Chapin, Harry’s widow, gave permission for his name to be used by our food bank in 1994. The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida is proud to honor a man who contributed his talent, energy and passion to alleviating hunger. His legacy lives on.
NOTE: Food Bank history here – including a slider with photos showing milestones along the way? We already have a slider of our history on our 35th anniversary website. We could just beef it up.
When the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida opened its doors as the Lee County Food Cooperative in 1983, who could have imagined that 35 years later the food bank would distribute 24 million pounds of food in a single year?
When it began, the Cooperative’s primary responsibility was to help distribute the huge surpluses of cheese and other dairy commodities held by the federal government. Almost immediately, the Cooperative began recovering other food from retailers and growers and continued to increase in size and effectiveness. In 1985, the Cooperative changed its name to the Southwest Florida Food Bank to reflect its regional service area.
In 1994, our name changed to Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, a tribute to the late singer who passionately fought hunger. His widow, Sandy Chapin, gave the food bank permission to use his name. In 2009, the food bank moved to its current 55,000 -square-foot-warehouse in Fort Myers.
The food bank’s reach has grown from a handful of partner agencies to more than 150 throughout Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties. We distribute food to these partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, children’s programs, residential programs, senior programs, homeless shelters and our mobile pantry program, called Fulfill.
“We are the largest hunger relief network in Southwest Florida,” said Richard LeBer, food bank president and CEO. “As the food bank moves beyond its 35th anniversary year and looks to a bright future, we are more deeply committed than ever to our vision that “no one has to go hungry in our community.”